Happy New Year! We’re so excited to put 2020 behind us, we thought the perfect way to ring in the new year was with some Disney World fireworks (virtually at home). Check out the video below. Also, check out our list of the 10 things coming to Disney World we’re most excited about. Elsewhere around the Walt Disney World Resort, park hopping is back and the new entrance fountain at Epcot has been revealed. Disney announced the reopening of one of the water parks and shared never before seen video of the newest ship coming to the Disney Cruise Line fleet. A special ticket offer for Florida residents returns, and follow along on an awesome sneak peek of the new Ratatouille attraction. All this and more in this week’s news roundup.
1 – Happy New Year!
We have turned the page on 2020, a challenging year, to say the least. We’re looking forward to 2021 and all the possibilities in front of us! While New Year’s Eve is behind us, we can still enjoy some Walt Disney World fireworks at home! Disney has released a video from 2017 of the ‘Fantasy in the Sky’ New Year’s Eve fireworks! Watch the video at the link below.
2 – 10 Confirmed Things We’re Looking Forward to Coming to Walt Disney World in 2021!
While many construction projects at Walt Disney World have been postponed or delayed, there is still a lot to be excited about in 2021! We’ve compiled a list of things that have been officially confirmed to be coming to Walt Disney World in 2021! Learn more below.
3 – Park Hopping Returns to Walt Disney World
Park hopping has returned to Walt Disney World. While we are so excited to visit multiple parks in one day again, there are some changed you need to be aware of. First, you must have a reservation for your first park and visit that park. Park hopping begins at 2:00 pm and is subject to park availability at the other parks. It has been confirmed that you can visit multiple parks in one day (all four if you wanted)—not just one additional park. The monorail from the Transportation and Ticket Center to EPCOT is still not running. Disney is offering bus transportation for guests wishing to visit the other parks. Learn more about modified park hopping at the link below.
4 – Fountain at EPCOT Revealed!
Disney Cast Members have been working hard on reimagining the EPCOT entrance. The new water feature in front of Spaceship Earth harkens back to the park’s origins and highlights a greener, more open and welcoming entry experience for guests. The fountain is the most recent milestone in the historic transformation of EPCOT now underway. It’s so nice not having the walls up at the entrance, and the fountain is even more beautiful in person! Learn more about the fountain at the link below.
5 – Blizzard Beach Will be the First Water Park to Reopen this Spring
This past September, Disney announced that one of the two water parks would be reopening on March 7, 2021. The water parks have yet to reopen during the phased reopening. Disney has announced which water park will open, and it will be Blizzard Beach. We’ll be there when the water park reopens and are looking forward to a Blizzard Beach visit! Learn more about Blizzard Beach at the link below.
6 – Florida Resident Discovery Disney Tickets Return in 2021
Beginning January 4, 2021, the four-day Florida Resident Discover Disney Ticket invites Floridians to visit any of the four Disney parks through June 18, 2021 (subject to block out dates), for a special price of $199 (plus tax). Learn more by clicking here.
7 – Disney Gives ‘Ratatouille’ Fan Sneak Peek of New EPCOT Attraction
Emily Jacobsen is so excited for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – the magical new attraction debuting in 2021 at EPCOT in Florida – she created a song about Remy and posted a video online of herself singing it. The clip became a worldwide social media phenomenon, inspiring others to share their love for the “Little Chef” through music.
On Sunday, December 27, while vacationing at Walt Disney World Resort, Jacobsen experienced some Disney magic all her own when she was whisked backstage at EPCOT for a surprise sneak peek of the forthcoming attraction. Based on Disney and Pixar’s hit film “Ratatouille,” this family-friendly experience will invite guests to shrink down to the size of a rat for a culinary adventure with Chef Remy, racing across Gusteau’s kitchen floor. Disney cameras were on hand to capture Jacobsen’s reaction during and after her special tour.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is one of several new experiences coming to EPCOT as part of the park’s historic transformation.
8 – Disney Cruise Line Releases Never-Before-Seen Video of Its Next Ship – The Disney Wish
We can’t wait to get back to cruising and Disney Cruise Line has given a look at their newest ship that has us dreaming of sailing in 2022! Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Jonathan Frontado:
Earlier today, the “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Celebration” unpacked a sleigh-full of Disney magic, including a brand-new video of the Disney Wish, which sets sail in summer 2022.
This never-before-seen digital clip showcases new details of the dazzling Grand Hall and a first look at the stunning character statue at the base of the grand staircase, an iconic Disney princess whose faith in her dreams has inspired generations to believe in the power of their own.
Who is she? You don’t have to wait until the clock strikes midnight to find out…
Inspired by the beauty of a fairytale castle, the Grand Hall makes a bold welcoming statement, setting the tone for an enchanted family vacation from the moment guests step onboard the Disney Wish. It is an idyllic setting for Cinderella, whose timeless story is the perfect example of magic transforming wishes into dreams and dreams into reality – very fitting for a vessel named the Disney Wish, don’t you think?
The Disney Wish is the first of three new ships joining the Disney Cruise Line fleet through 2025. All three ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas and, at approximately 144,000 gross tons and 1,250 guest staterooms, will be slightly larger than the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.
9 – Buffalo Boy Celebrates Special Christmas Gift from NFL Players at Walt Disney World
While most kids his age are longing for bicycles and video games from Santa Claus, all 8-year-old Jackson DeLude from Buffalo, N.Y., wanted for Christmas this year was the ability to run. Jackson, who was born without fully developed legs, recently flew to Orlando to get his wish, thanks to the generosity of two kind-hearted NFL players. And one of the first places he wanted to test out his new legs was Walt Disney World Resort.
After learning about Jackson’s Christmas wish, Buffalo Bills players Matt Milano and Gabriel Davis decided to play Santa Claus and arranged for him to fly to Orlando and get fitted for two prosthetic legs at Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates. The players covered the costs for everything, including a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the weekend where Jackson and his mother, Ashley, explored Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, took a trip on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and played with some of his Pixar pals in Toy Story Land.
Milano and Davis chose to send Jackson, whose partially developed legs were surgically amputated when he was an infant, to Orlando to fulfill his Christmas wish because they are both from the Orlando area and both trained for years at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.
10 – Disney and Make-A-Wish Inspire Aspiring Young Animator
Disney and Make-A-Wish have shared details on another heartwarming wish. Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Shelby Grasser:
For children with critical illnesses, a wish can be transformative, bringing hope, strength and joy, so they can forget about treatment and just be a kid. Together, Disney and Make-A-Wish® have made more than 140,000 wishes come true over the course of our 40-year relationship, with every part of The Walt Disney Company—from its theme parks and Disney stores, to the television and movie studios—helping grant these life-changing wishes.
Disney recently launched a new video series called “The Wish Effect,” which takes a closer look at the power of a wish and the impact it can have on a child’s life long after it comes true. The Disney Parks Blog has shared Tali’s wish for a Disney-themed RV camper and Henry’s selfless toy drive. The latest episode introduces TJ, whose wish to tour Walt Disney Animation Studios and meet with animators was granted in 2019.
For 15-year-old TJ of Suffolk County, New York, the films of Walt Disney Animation Studios have long been an inspiration. He was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 11, and throughout his treatments he constantly watched films such as “Lilo & Stitch,” “The Lion King” and “Brother Bear” and also drew his own sketches of favorite Disney and Pixar characters. “I want to be a Disney animator and I wanted to see what goes into making my favorite movies,” TJ said of his chosen wish.
“When I saw TJ walk in, his jaw just dropped, looking at our table of artwork. He said, ‘Wow, this really means something,’ and it shows a greater perspective when you see the connection that it makes with a child, and a child for whom this is so important. It makes our job even that much more worthwhile. It makes our coming into work just that much more meaningful,” Fox Carney, Manager of Research for the ARL, said.
Over lunch at Walt Disney Animation Studios, TJ met with a group of animators and producers who gave him an inside look at how a film goes from inception to the big screen, and he witnessed firsthand the camaraderie and teamwork that is part of the Disney Animation DNA. The group—which included the studio President Clark Spencer, master animator/director Eric Goldberg, “Zootopia” director Byron Howard and co-director/writer Jared Bush—shared stories of their own career journeys and offered encouragement for TJ on how to move forward in pursuing his own dream of working in animation.
Bush believes that being part of TJ’s wish was as inspiring for the animators as it was for the 15-year-old. “To celebrate [wish kids] for a day is so important, to allow them to look in the future and see what life is going to be like after they’re through this really hard part. It’s just really exciting to be part of that,” he said. Bush noted that the animators who spent time with TJ left the interaction “feeling fantastic for days,” and TJ’s enthusiasm excites them for the next generation of artists and technologists at Disney Animation.
As part of his special day, TJ also took a private tour of Walt Disney’s office, which has been restored to its original state on The Walt Disney Studios lot, before returning to Disney Animation for several hands-on experiences. Renato Dos Anjos, head of animation for “Zootopia” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” gave TJ an expert tutorial on computer animation, teaching him how to use a character rig and make it come to life through animation. Alex Kupershmidt, a supervising animator from “Lilo & Stitch”—TJ’s favorite film—guided him through the process of character sketching, recognizing the young man’s ability and telling him that he looks forward to working with him in the future. TJ also visited Disney Animation’s “animation pit,” where dozens of additional animators greeted him and shared stories about their work and careers.
TJ described his wish as the best day of his life, and as he prepared to return home, he looked forward to a bright future, sharing, “In a couple years, I’ll show up again and work here!” When he was recently reunited with Bush virtually for the latest installment of “The Wish Effect,” TJ assured the animator he’s taken all of their advice to heart and continues to work on his animation skills. “I’m so happy I get to know you,” he said.
11 – 2021 DoD Warrior Games Coming to Walt Disney World
Disney has announced the special games will come to ESPN Wide World of Sports this year. Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Cappy Surette:
The Walt Disney Company has an enduring legacy of support for the Armed Forces, military families and veterans throughout the history of our Company. We’re looking forward to more great opportunities to continue this tradition including something very special.
The United States Army Training and Doctrine Command shared it will host the annual Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games in Central Florida in September 2021. And there is no better stage for these courageous competitors to show the world their grit and determination than right here at Walt Disney World Resort!
Soon, hundreds of heroes from across the United States Armed Forces and ally nations will come together at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to proudly demonstrate their fighting spirit through adaptive sporting events including wheelchair basketball, cycling, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby and more.
As a veteran of the United States Navy, I couldn’t be prouder of Disney for donating the venue and services for this inspiring event. These games truly embody and celebrate the resiliency and dedication of wounded, ill, and injured active duty and veteran military service members. And this event provides an opportunity for families, friends and supporters like you to see these incredible wounded warriors shine as they display their true warrior spirit through competitive sports.
Please join me in thanking these brave service members for their service to our country in defense of freedom and stay tuned as we share more information on the 2021 DoD Warrior Games soon.
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